Elisabeth May. Picture credit to: Mission City Record.
Elisabeth May, Canada’s Green Party leader has spoken about a “robot tax” which, according to the party’s Platform, focuses on large companies (exempting slam businesses) laying off employees due to investments in artificial intelligence (AI). In this scheme, these companies would pay the equivalent amount of income tax which would be due from the displaced workers. However, funds collected this way would be used not to finance a universal basic income (UBI) – also called a Guaranteed Livable Income in the Platform document – but to backup educational and retraining programs.
This is line with the Party’s professed uncertainty – as expressed in their Platform 2019 Costing – about how to finance and administer a UBI in Canada, although the Party supports UBI as an idea and has pleaded the Federal Government to restart the Ontario basic income pilot project.
More information at:
“Green party proposes a ‘robot tax’ when companies replace workers with machines”, CBC, 29th September 2019
Credit Picture: Green European Journal 2018
The Green European Journal launched the Green Observatory on Basic Income, asking to experts in a series of interviews about the status of universal basic income (UBI) in the political discourse of their country, and the stance that Green, and other progressive parties, show towards it.
The Green European Journal is an editorial indipendent publication of the Green European Fundation (GEF), which is funded by the European Parliament.
The Journal is “a platform to help debates and ideas to travel across Europe’s cultural and political borders, and of contributing to the construction of a vibrant European public space.”
Being UBI something which always interested green circles and movements, for its potential in enhancing individual freedoms and capacities, the Journal decided to investigate the current status of the debate across the political spectrum in Europe.
Belgium – Kim Evangelista
England & Wales – Natalie Bennett
Greece – Constantine Dimoulas
Germany – Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn
Finland – Ville Ylikahri
France – Lucile Schmid
Italy – Giuseppe Allegri
Poland – Adam Ostolski
Portugal – Jorge Pinto
Scotland – Jamie Cooke
Spain – Julen Bollain
Switzerland – Irina Studhalter
More information at:
“Green Observatory: Basic income”, Green European Journal, October 17th 2018.
MEP Heidi Hautala at the headquarters of the Green League in Helsinki
As we’ve recently reported here, Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced their plan for the basic income experiment, and requested citizens’ opinions on it, on the 25th of August. We’ve also reported Finnish experts’ responses here, including a critical remark by Osmo Soininvaara, a former Minister of Social Services from the Finnish Green League and a long-time UBI advocate. This article reports more detail of the Green League’s response (Vihreä liitto, the Green Party of Finland).
An unconditional basic income has been a part of the Green League’s platform since it was founded in 1987 by Soininvaara and others. The Green League published a detailed plan for UBI implementation in 2007. It was the first detailed plan for such a scheme by a political party in Finland.
On the 29th of August, we at BIEN visited the headquarters of the Green League in Helsinki. Heidi Hautala, a Member of the European Parliament, offered us a brief comment on the government’s experimental plan. Here is the video:
After shooting the video, Hautala also noted the necessity of a European-wide move towards UBI.
Ville Ylikahri, one of the Green League’s experts on UBI, commented in a similar tone:
I think about the government’s basic income experiment the same way that Osmo Soininvaara and Heidi Hautala do: experimentation as such is a good thing but the risk is that the government’s badly designed experiment will be a reason to say afterwards that basic income doesn’t work. The experiment focuses too much on combining work income and social benefits, while it neglects all the other aspects of basic income. The main problem in this experiment is that it lacks taxation changes completely. But, saying that, I understand that any kind of experiment on basic income would be a hard thing to do.
Ville Ylikahri, second from right, at the headquarters of the Green League in Helsinki. Taken by Toru Yamamori
Ylikahri is a member of the Helsinki City Council and Secretary General of the green think tank ViSiO (The Green Cultural and Educational Centre). Ylikahri has published a book on UBI and has been involved in UBI research and the formation of both the party and ViSiO’s detailed UBI plans.
Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto, the Head of the Green Parliamentary Group, gave a statement about the government’s proposal here [in Finnish]. According to Ylikahri, the statement says:
The experiment won’t provide proper information about basic income, and the model without taxation changes is too expensive. The Greens have decided that we will continue to develop our own basic income model.
Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan.
The Green Party and its presidential nominee Jill Stein has made overtures to the guaranteed basic income. However, Stein recently clarified her position on CNN, saying that the basic income is only a “visionary goal” at this point.
The Universal Basic Income is part of the Green Party’s platform, and many news outlets have previously reported that UBI is part of Stein’s core policies.
Stein’s clarification that the UBI is not a “practical” policy to push is extremely disappointing. She could have helped bring the UBI to the forefront of the debate as voters search for an alternative choice to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps Stein does not want voters to confuse her position with that of conservatives and libertarians such as Charles Murray, who want to replace most social services with a $10,000 universal basic income.
Instead of dismissing UBI outright, Stein should advocate for creating pilot programs to test the efficacy of basic income around the United States. Not only does this sound completely reasonable, it is likely the inevitable first step toward implementing a full basic income throughout the country.
Alternatively, Stein could use the carbon tax as a method to promote the UBI through a carbon dividend. This would motivate those passionate about the environment and basic income.
The biggest problem with Stein’s comments to CNN is that they may deflate some motivation to push for a basic income. Stein has billed herself as a revolutionary candidate and yet she is hesitant about the guaranteed basic income. That may give some potential basic income supporters hesitation about the policy.
After Stein’s new comments, it is unclear which candidate is the most friendly to basic income. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said he was “open” to a basic income and supports a Fair Tax, which includes a prebate check that would essentially create a universal basic income.
Hopefully, Stein will take a more proactive approach with the basic income and support experiments to determine whether she is right about its practicality.
Basic income is not just a vision. It is a critical movement for the twenty first century.
Image By Paul Stein – https://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/7999998562/sizes/m/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21702881
Caroline Lucas, ‘These are the simple reasons why a basic income for all could transform our society for the better‘, The Independent, 16th January 2015.
Caroline Lucas, the only member of parliament from the Green Party of England and Wales, has been considered as being reluctant for a citizen’s income according to a past media report, although it has been on the policy agenda of the party from its beginning.
In this article, however, Lucas makes herself clear by saying ‘a Basic Income is something that I’ve longed campaigned for.’ (cited from the original version of the article. Wording ‘I’ve’ is changed to ‘the Green Party has’ as accessed on 27th January)
She is also convinced that ‘[i]t’s clear why the Basic Income, which has often been dismissed as utopian, is making its way into the mainstream’.
Lucas tabled motion for basic income study to Parliament on 20th January 2015.